There are few wine regions in the world where visitors have the opportunity to get to know the winemaking process in as much detail as in the Rioja Alavesa region. Let us visit one of the most renowned wineries to be able to understand each and every stage of the process – from the vineyard to the glass. Comprised of an entire block of buildings –old village estates– Remírez de Ganuza is located in the center of Samaniego. Around a large central courtyard which is divided in two by a natural watercourse, each one of the buildings that make up the winery is dedicated to a different wine production phase: the barrel area, the wine bottle racks, the refrigeration chambers, and the selection area. The winery’s traditional architecture, with its noteworthy ceiling made up of centuries-old oak beams, sharply contrasts with one of the most avant-garde and innovative production methods in existence today.
Remírez de Ganuza has more than seventy hectares of Tempranillo, Graciano, Viura, and Malvasia grape varieties distributed over eight municipalities of the Sierra de Cantabria region: Labastida, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Ábalos, Samaniego, Leza, Elciego, Laguardia, and Elvillar. All of these municipalities have been selected by taking into account their habitat, microclimate, orientation of the plots of land, the low productivity of the strains, and the age of the vines – with the average age of the strains being fifty years. This spacious amount of land allows for self-supply of high-quality grapes.
The first step of the process begins in the vineyard, with the thinning process, which is to remove any grape clusters and leaves that are in very compact groups so that the clusters that are left are loose. In this way, the grapes are better exposed to the air, and production is better balanced for each strain. During the harvest, the first grape selection process is undertaken. Only grapes that meet the highest quality standards (ripe and healthy grapes from strains in perfect foliar condition) are selected for winemaking, with the rest of the harvest being discarded.
The grapes are collected manually and placed into twelve-kilo boxes; this is to ensure their perfect condition while being transported to the winery. Once there, they are stored in refrigeration chambers at a temperature of between 4 and 6 degrees. The chosen grapes then go through a secondary selection process with different selection stages. Firstly, the loose grapes and the must are separated from the optimal clusters, and the health of the grapes is measured. Subsequently, the selected clusters are manually divided into two: the shoulders (top part) and the tips (bottom part). Because of the varying levels of maturity of each of these parts, the shoulders are used for ‘Reserva’ wines while the tips are used for young wines produced with carbonic maceration. Lastly, the de-stemmed grapes are washed with their own must before being sent to the tanks.
The actual making of the wine takes place in small, conical, stainless steel tanks that have been specially designed for the winery, as well as in other tank types for smaller batches. There, alcoholic fermentation is undertaken. Next, the wine is put into oak barrels (always new) for malolactic fermentation to take place. To take advantage of the effect that the outside temperature can have, the highest part of the winery is used for malolactic fermentation.
This meticulous production process yields nine high-quality wines: Erre Punto Tinto 2018, Fincas de Ganuza Reserva 2013, Viña Coqueta Reserva 2009, Reserva 2012, Trasnocho 2013, Gran Reserva 2010, María Remírez de Ganuza Reserva Especial 2010, Blanco 2017, and Blanco Reserva 2011. Anyone wishing to discover this winery’s creations for the first time can start with Remírez de Ganuza Reserva 2012, the flagship wine, made with the shoulders of the best clusters from vines whose average age is 60 years. With its bright, cherry color, this ‘Reserva’ wine has an intense aroma that is penetrating and complex, with hints of ripe black fruit over a sweet, balsamic, and smoked spice backdrop. In the mouth, this wine is strong, tasty, and full bodied, featuring a velvety texture and a good balance between fruit and aging. Each sip of this delicious wine is a true journey for the senses to this bucolic wine region.
Remírez de Ganuza
Calle Constitución 1, Samaniego.
Tel.: +34 945 609 022